In The Book of Rites Confucius says: "Always and in everything let there be reverence." He realized that this is an essential building block of a better world. Another word for reverence is respect. In this inspiring and edifying work, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, pays tribute to this many-splendored quality.

Instead of emphasizing respect as a debt due to people because of their attained or inherent position, she reframes it as a virtue that engenders symmetry, empathy, and connection in human relationships. Through the lives of a midwife, a pediatrician, a high school teacher, an artist and photographer, a law school professor, and an Episcopal priest and AIDS activist, Lawrence-Lightfoot provides six aspects of respect: empowerment, healing, dialogue, curiosity, self-respect, and attention.

These profiles enable us to appreciate the importance of civility and manners, caring presence, building trust, practicing patience, and drawing out the best in others. The transformation of our private and public lives can be accelerated by the spiritual practice of reverence or respect.